It’s made of people! Social media for higher education

According to Inside Higher Ed, “About two-thirds of high school students use social media to research colleges, and more than one-third of those students use social media to help decide where to enroll.”

So why do colleges and universities post unsharable content to social channels that are designed for sharing?

Posting the merits of your curriculum, class schedules and holiday wishes for your current students has a certain amount of utility. But is that content, which could easily be relegated to a page on the University’s main site, being shared with prospective students?

Probably not.

Social media is about people. People use it to post pics of themselves and friends. People use it to promote their righteous cause. People use it to find righteous causes to support. So it’s no wonder that posts about inspirational alumni, professors and community leaders get passed around much more than a post about summer scheduling.

The University of Pittsburgh recently shared a tremendous story about John C. Downs, who at 90 years old is receiving his diploma from the school. The post received 96 “likes.” And it’s a story that appeals to both a reader’s curiosity while maintaining brand message.

Robert Morris University, just outside of Pittsburgh, garnered 88 likes and 10 comments on their Facebook page by sharing a story about a dance team co-captain who won the 2014 Presidential Transformational Award, RMU’s highest undergraduate honor.

Carnegie Mellon University announced that the VP of Google Pittsburgh will become the Dean of their school of computer science. Three-hundred and forty-seven people liked this post.

While it is very important that prospective students know about your institution’s values, mission and curriculum, such info is better served away from Facebook, Twitter, etc. Because as the above examples show, social media is about people.